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“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton

Treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder shows promise, new RTI International study finds

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PTSD is a psychological disorder that can happen to individuals that have been exposed to any traumatic events individually or in a group setting. These include rape, assaults, natural disasters, and war. Traumatic events are any shocking situation that involves an individual witnessing or experiencing overwhelming conditions that present a significant threat to the psychological and physiological wellbeing of the individual. Experiencing fear during trauma is a normal reaction for individuals in distress because it triggers their fight or flight responses to protect themselves. Individuals who suddenly find themselves in these kinds of situations would usually experience some type of reaction towards the trauma, and most would recover from the initial shock. But for those with PTSD, their problems continue to persist for months or years after their trauma. PTSD does not only occur through first-hand experience. It can also occur through indirect exposure to trauma. Such as learning about a violent death of a family member or through repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as repeated exposure to child abuse cases. 

Four categories can distinguish PTSD symptoms;

1. Intrusive thoughts
Intrusive thoughts are often repetitive. They manifest as involuntary memories, distressing dreams, and also flashbacks of their trauma. These flashbacks that they experienced are so vivid that the victims often feel like they are reliving their trauma all over again.

2. Avoiding reminders
PTSD individuals might also avoid being in situations that could trigger or remind them of their trauma, including people, places, activities, and any position that could bring up their distressing memories. Numerous reports of how ordinary sounds such as loud noises from fireworks can elicit strong adverse reactions from military veterans and victims of shootings with PTSD.

3. Negative thoughts and feelings
Having negative thoughts and perceptions about themselves is also one of the signs of having PTSD. They often have distorted beliefs about themselves, such as believing that they are evil and deserve to be punished. Due to this, they would often distance themselves from things they love, such as their friends and family, and enjoy doing activities that previously excites them.

4. Arousal and reactive symptoms.
Another indication of individuals having PTSD is their changed behavior. It is common to find them having self-destructive tendencies such as behaving recklessly or having little regard for their wellbeing, being easily irritable, and having angry outbursts.


To be diagnosed with having PTSD, the symptoms stated must appear in the days following the events. The symptoms must persist for at least a month and often may last for years. It is reported that about 80 % of individuals with PTSD have comorbid conditions such as depression, substance abuse, and other physical and mental health issues (Pallanti & Salerno, 2020).


Not all individuals who have PTSD need professional treatment to get better. Some of their symptoms may diminish over time, and others also get better with the support of friends and family members. Those who needed the help because their symptoms can be physically intense and damaging to wellbeing. Mental health professionals have long used the combination of psychotherapy and medication as a treatment for PTSD. One of the therapies used in CBT is cognitive processing therapy. This focuses on modifying painful negative emotions and beliefs due to the individual trauma. Next is the usage of prolonged exposure therapy. The therapy uses repeated and detailed imagining of the trauma triggers in a safe environment to help the individual control their fears and learn how to cope with their distress. Group therapy is also frequently used as a treatment method by having survivors share their ordeal and experiences in a non-judgemental setting. Other forms of treatment that practitioners also use are interpersonal therapy, family therapy, and psychodynamic therapies, focusing on the emotional part of PTSD (Tull, 2020).

Medications used alongside therapy generally focus on relieving the symptoms of PTSD, such as lowering their anxiety and physical agitation or to help treat the individual sleeping problems. Antidepressants that help target the particular serotonin and norepinephrine are examples of medication given to PTSD patients (Tull, 2020). Alternative treatments such as animal-assisted therapy have also been explored as treatment options to help with PTSD symptoms. According to a study done on animal-assisted therapy for children with PTSD, the findings show that the children’s perception of their social competence and behavioral conduct is significantly higher after treatment using animal-assisted therapy (Schuck et al., 2018). 

Miao, X. R., Chen, Q. B., Wei, K., Tao, K. M., & Lu, Z. J. (2018). Posttraumatic stress disorder: from diagnosis to prevention. Military Medical Research5(1), 32.
Pallanti, S., & Salerno, L. (2020). The burden of adult ADHD in comorbid psychiatric and neurological disorders. Cham, Switzerland: Springer
Tull, M. (2020). Is There a Cure for PTSD? Retrieved 2020, from https://www.verywellmind.com/ptsd-treatment-2797659.
Schuck, S. E., Johnson, H. L., Abdullah, M. M., Stehli, A., Fine, A. H., & Lakes, K. D. (2018). The role of animal-assisted intervention on improving self-esteem in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Frontiers in pediatrics6, 300.
What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? (2017). Retrieved 2020, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd.